Updated: Feb 27
“I'd said he couldn't burn me. I still believed that. If I was going to go up in a flame, it would be my own doing.
The Betrothed is set in a fictional Kingdom known as Corora. The book introduces us to our main character, Hollis Brite. A young woman born into a noble family, never needing anything. She and other women of noble families are in a courtship with the new King of Corora named Jameson. She and her family both seek to be victorious and land the hand of the King, which will make her Queen. However, as she and Jameson grow a closer bond, another finds his way into her heart. This unfamiliar man suddenly causes her to doubt everything she thought she wanted.
I’ll just come out and say I detest this book so much. I didn’t dislike it as much when I first read it, but the more time I spent mulling over everything that happened, I realized how awful it truly was. The primary character is selfish and ignorant of the feelings of those around her. I can’t explain in the non-spoiler portion, because I will just end up ranting and spoiling it. I’ll leave my spoiler comments below for those who care to peruse it. Outside of the mc being an entire bother to my psyche, the story itself makes no sense. There are so many plot holes left in the book b/y the time it concludes. It leaves me wondering if this is the same author who wrote The Selection. Though if I am being fair, I read that book series a long time ago, I’ve matured more and so has my taste in books. The boring and underdeveloped characters, two bland romances, and the constant plot holes made this experience stand out in a bad way. Especially when the other books I read were mostly four stars and above. All I could do was continuously check how many pages I had left so I could put this down.
I know I’m being harsh, and this is in no way to criticize Kiera Cass. She is a phenomenal woman, and I love all authors, even if I don’t like their book. Writing is not easy, therefore I respect anyone who even tries. I love Kiera Cass, so please do not leave any author hate.
I have a few pages marked, so I can go in order of things I didn’t like or that made little sense. I hope to arrange my thoughts into a cohesive piece of writing.
When we first meet Hollis, the book constantly beats us over the head about how she is not like other girls. She is so carefree and relates more with those beneath her than she does with people in her circle. She is so different and amazing, that this young king who never wanted to settle down, settles down with her. He wants to marry her despite having his chance to court all the noble girls. Yet, we are never actually told or shown why he wants her over the others. We only see them go on one outing and a few dinners; they barely speak through most of the book. So I do not understand how he became so enamored with her. Other than the fact that she is capable of starting food fights like a child. I suppose we could say he chose her because she is not as intelligent as the other women. That’s how she comes off at least, like a pretty face with very little to offer in any other area.
She has been groomed to marry into a high-standing family ever since she was a child, but she knows nothing about her people or the other kingdoms surrounding her. So much that they have to rush to teach her everything she lacks in knowledge about a neighboring kingdom who is coming to visit. This baffles me so much because she is not just marrying any fancy nobleman. She is to marry the King and be Queen. The book talks about how every past Queen has been more revered than the actual Kings for achieving these astounding things. Then you have Hollis who knows nothing about anything and has no skill or hobby. The only real friend she has is an outcast in her circle because … wait for it … her parents divorced. In this world, divorcing is the worst thing someone can do. It causes you, and everyone in your family to appear lesser than others for failing to maintain a successful marriage. Therefore, her best friend, Delia Grace, gets treated like a commoner in their home and is often ridiculed and bullied. While Hollis does nothing to defend the girl, despite being so mellow with the rift rafts.
So Hollis is now being showered by affection and favor from Jameson, everyone knows they are serious and he is constantly gifting her extravagant items. She is of course very pleased and excited to be his Queen. That is until she meets Silas from a neighboring Kingdom, he and his family fled their home and King and are granted safety in Hollis’s Kingdom. This is also the same King that is visiting, King Quinten. From the moment she and Silas meet, it is an attraction at first sight. Throughout his stay in the castle, they're often seen having intimate conversations about her personal life that she for some reason just blabbers to him. She also initiates touching first despite being prepped to marry Jameson. She has more scenes with Silas than she does with the guy she is marrying, which is another reason that relationship felt so dull and unrealistic. However, what bothers me the most, is glorifying cheating. Silas frequently tries telling her it’s not cheating since she is not married yet. I happen to disagree; while they may be unmarried, they are planning to wed. Jameson has been going above and beyond for her and she is going behind his back and flirting with another man. I feel like if a man did this, then there would be so much outrage. Though it’s all right since it’s a woman and it’s amorous. No thanks, I don’t like it. I loathe the idea that it’s romantic to go behind the back of someone you’re supposed to marry. She even gave Silas a handkerchief token of her favor for a tournament he was in. Which was entirely rude, and I wish Kiera Cass gave her consequences for that. Speaking of, I think she could have done so much more with this scene. Maybe Silas could have gotten injured and her behavior makes Jameson suspicious of why Hollis is so distraught over it. I would have loved to see the struggle of wanting to check on Silas, but wanting to hide her emotions as well. Opportunity wasted!
Later down the road, the visiting Kingdom arrives, and Jameson has Hollis join them in a few of the meetings. It is one of these meetings that she learns that Jameson plans to give their children to other nations for marriage in return for alliance and things that make their Kingdom stronger. He essentially tells her “They’re not our children. They are mine to do with as I please.” Which felt like a feeble attempt to make him suddenly seem like an evil guy despite how great he has been in the first few chapters. Oh, he’s so evil now, he wants to marry his kids off. This goes back to her being groomed for marriage and even courtship with a King, how does she not know this is a part of that? Many nobles and or Royals marry their children off. It feels odd this is news to her when it’s something she should have already been taught. Regardless, with this news, she wonders if she even wants to marry Jameson. She has this insta-love thing for Silas and they have even kissed more than once behind the King’s back. She feels like, and I quote “A lady in a gilded cage.” One that she intentionally set herself in because she wanted to be Queen without knowing what all comes with it. Because again, she has no personality, knowledge, skill, or quirks.
She tells Delia about these feelings and rightly so, her best friend calls her out on how selfish she is. I don’t agree with everything Delia said, since she only wanted Hollis to marry Jameson so she could be elevated too. However, she was correct in stating that Hollis has grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth and rarely ever looks at the lives of those around her. She is complaining about being trapped in a marriage that she desired, while Delia would be lucky to even marry at all.
Despite the many conversations with Delia, such as this one, she eventually leaves with Silas and gets married. To her credit, she does ultimately tell Jameson how she feels before leaving. Though she conveniently forgot to mention that a boy she’s known for less than a month has changed her mind completely. Her family disowns her but attends the wedding anyway. Silas’s family takes over as her new family and allows her to stay with them. Delia decides to take her shot at the king, one she wanted to take before, but couldn’t because he saw Hollis first. So now Delia, despite being treated like a commoner because of her parent’s divorce has somehow found her way into the heart of the King. That part is where I just had to laugh. This book does this whole woe-me thing for Delia, then the King chooses her instead of one of the other women he was courting. What? Hollis is clearly happy for them and goes through with her wedding believing all is well. Nope, a group of men from King Quinten attacks the wedding. His family and the majority of everyone at their wedding get murdered. Including her new husband and her parents. It is never told why their King came after them, but I believe it was a deal with Jameson. I didn't mention this before, but Hollis grew a close bond with King Quinten's wife and they started writing each other. Like the blabber she is, she wrote and mentioned she is no longer marrying King Jameson. I imagine that either Jameson got news of the wedding and asked King Quinten to do this, or he did it on his own. Since they did just sign an agreement on their future children that would not exist if she had babes with Silas. I wish they had hinted at one of those and left a cliffhanger for us. That would have made me at least a little curious to read the next book. Alas, they didn’t. It ends with her traveling with Silas’s mother and sister back to their home. To the King who just murdered their family. While Delia and Jameson are living their best life and is moving on from the horror that is Hollis. It was a very dry and pointless ending.
The only thing I liked about this book was that Hollis made friends with females she once thought were her enemy. I hate when books and people pit females against each other. So seeing friendship bloom where hate once stood, was beautiful. So in closing, I’ll end this with my favorite quote from this entire book.
“I felt silly for not understanding then what I did now: we weren’t that different. Not her, not Valentina, not Nora. In the end, we made enemies with our heads, but we unmade them with our hearts.”